Water-cooling has gotten very easy to setup these days, especially with the explosion of turn-key solutions from various manufacturers. The benefits of water-cooling are simple to grasp; they run relatively silent for the same performance (and often better) when compared to extreme air coolers, and are significantly cheaper than phase-change solutions. When properly installed, they are extremely reliable and require minimal maintenance.
On the flip side, even the easiest to assemble water-cooling kit is more complicated than most traditional heatsinks. Furthermore, some planning is required as not all cases are water-cooling friendly. Most performance kits require 120mm fans for their radiators, and right now, I'd say it's a 80/20 split between cases with 80mm rear fans and cases with 120mm rear fans. What this means is modding is most likely a requirement to prep a case for a decent water-cooling kit.
Going back to our intro, we mentioned the term "turn-key", which in simple terms means that as far as water-cooling goes, some kits are as close to plug-and-play as we can get. Some installation is still required, but the real work such as pump and radiator placement is done for you. In some kits, we see PC cases with pre-assembled water-cooling kits, and in other scenarios, external water-cooling kits that sit outside of the case. Arguably, is most likely the name most of our readers are familiar with when it comes to turn-key solutions, and today we'll be looking at their latest.. the PC3-720SL.
|" Aluminum chassis, stainless steel bezel inlay.
" Weighs, less than half the weight of our previous PC2-650 systems
" Dual 120mm heat exchanger fans
" Native 3/8" ID tubing
" LED-lit reservoir
" LED display with monitoring of 3 temperature sensors
" Adjustable fan speed (manual modes 1-10, and 1 auto mode)
" Adjustable audio alarm, independent for each sensor channel
" "Safety shutdown" consequently adjusted per user setting with sensor #1 audio alarm
" Refill tap, reservoir, and heat exchanger all located at top
" Five 3.5", two regular 3.5", four available 5.25", front USB 2.0 & 1394
" Large window
The Koolance PC3-720SL - The Case
The PC3-720SL is the silver version of their PC3-700 series of liquid cooling products, which can also be found in black (PC3-720BK). As with all their "PC" systems, the PC3-720SL is a computer chassis with an integrated water-cooling kit. The new PC3-700 series features a number of upgrades from their previous kits, which we will outline later in the review.
One of the most visible changes from previous kits is the newly designed chassis. Featuring an all aluminum design (save for the stainless steel bezel inlay and plastic "feet"), the case Koolance now uses will be much lighter than before, as well as modernizing the look somewhat as a steel chassis is hardly a material that elicits ooh's and ahhs from onlookers.
The case itself is very similar to the full towers of the Chieftec and Antec lines in terms of design. On the front of the case, we have a door that can open and close to hide any unsightly beige optical drive faceplates.
The lower portion of the front bezel features ventilation holes that allow some airflow for overall system cooling. You'll also find the external USB, FireWire and sound ports located here.
Removing the front bezel exposes a couple 80mm fan mounts that can draw air into the case through these holes.
Over on the rear of the case, we see the cutouts for the rear fan, PSU and motherboard I/O. Nothing too notable here, but keep in mind that no power supply is included with the PC3-720SL, so you'll have to spring for your own if you do not have a decent one already. Keep in mind that we mentioned decent. If you've never used a water-cooling setup before, they generally draw power on the +12v rail, and sub-standard PSUs never seem to provide enough juice in this area.
Both side panels are removable, and the left panel (your left when facing the front of the case) has a large window which is very popular with the majority of the mod community. Removing this panel via a couple thumbscrews exposes the interior of the case for the installation of your components. The side panel also has a lock by the handle, and while it doesn't stop anyone from picking up the PC and running like the wind (not so easy lugging a ~18lb box), it will deter a family member from borrowing your brand new video card while you're catching up with the latest episode of the O.C. We didn't mention it earlier, but it's worth pointing out that the main door on the front bezel also includes this lock.
There are a total of seven 3.5" bays (two external) and four external 5.25" bays. Drive rails are in full effect here, and are primarily used to install drives. The motherboard tray is removable, but it's not a slide out type of tray. If you choose to keep the tray where it is, there is ample space to work within the case for component installation. Other than the Koolance water-cooling which we'll get to in a minute, additional system cooling is provided by a couple of rear 80mm fans (along with the two front fans), as well as your PSU if it has fans in it (most likely). Be aware that these fans are not included by default.